PancakeBot Delivers Obama Grandma Slippers

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PancakeBot Delivers Obama Grandma Slippers
Jens Dyvik gives the original “Grandson Slippers” to Granny Obama with the laser etched image of her step grandson, President Barak Obama / photos via Fellesverkstedet and Jens Dyvik.

How the “Obama Grandma Slippers” came to the White House

The story of how the “Obama Grandma Slippers” came to the White House is a global maker tapestry, its threads woven by world travelers eager to share their knowledge and designs to enable others to create their own products.

The “Grandma Slippers” that were brought to the White House. Designed by Naoki Fujimoto at FabLab Kamakura in Japan, customized in AROFabLab Kenya for Sarah Obama and re-mixed at Fellesverkstedet for Barack Obama.

Our story begins a few years back in Kamakura Japan, where Naoki Fujimoto created the KULUSKA leather slipper, adapting traditional leather working techniques to the laser cutter. Fujimoto shared the design (there’s a parametric app) and Jens Dyvik (of the parametric layer chair and lasercut hexacoptor) took it with him on his worldwide “Fab Lab Tour,” spawning variations as it circled the globe.

Laser cutting and Assembling KULUSKA leather slippers

In the trailer below for the 2013 documentary “Making Living Sharing,” Jens gives a custom pair of KULUSKA slippers to Sarah Onyango Obama with a laser engraved image of her step grandson, President Obama, created while working AROFabLab Kenya.
YouTube player

The Fab Meta Granny Slippers

To celebrate the U.S. National Day of Making and the White House Maker Faire, members of the Oslo FabLab made a special present for the President. They adapted the “Grandson Slippers” design to make “Grandma Slippers” for President Obama. The shoes feature an engraved image of Sarah Onyango Obama, etched from a photo taken when she received the “Grandson Slippers.” ObamaGrandmaMontage2

Enter the PancakeBot Crew

Presidential Pancake Portrait!

Miguel Valenzuela, the self-proclaimed “Mexican Viking,” had been invited to the White House Maker Faire to show his PancakeBot, which he prototyped in the Oslo FabLab (aka Fellesverkstedet). So the Fellesverkstedet crew shipped our slipper surprise for the President with Miguel, who is a U.S. citizen. During the excitement of the White House Maker Faire, Miguel was unable to leave the PancakeBot, which was busily sketching Presidential portraits. So he emailed the MIT Mobile Fab Lab crew and enlisted the help of Neil Gershenfeld (also present at the White House Maker Faire) to hand off the slippers. His request reads as a maker poem (line breaks in original email):

Hi Neil, that would be great if I could hand off the slippers to you.
I am in the hall downstairs.
Just follow the pancake smell.
Slippers are at the white house
– Miguel Valenzuela
Miguel and Bill Nye
Miguel and Bill Nye making pancakes at the White House

Obama’s administration accepted the slippers as a gift and I hope Barrack is already wearing them.  I asked Neil Gershenfeld afterwards how the President reacted. Gershenfeld said, “He was quite pleasantly surprised to see them. Protocol is you don’t give things to him, but I did leave them with his staff afterwards.” 980E

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Anna Kaziunas France is interested practical digital fabrication focused project documentation (anything that turns codes into things), as well as adventures in synthetic biology, biohacking, personal genomics and programmable materials.

She's currently working on the forthcoming book "Design for CNC: Practical Joinery Techniques, Projects, and Tips for CNC-routed Furniture".

She’s also the Academic Dean of the global Fab Academy program, the co-author of Getting Started with MakerBot and compiled the Make: 3D Printing book.

Formerly, she worked as an editor for Make: Books, was digital fabrication editor and skill builder section editor for Make: Magazine, and directed Make:'s 2015 and 2014 3D Printer Shootout testing events.

She likes things that are computer-controlled, parametric, and open— preferably all three.

Find her on her personal site, Twitter and Facebook.

View more articles by Anna Kaziunas France


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